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Turn the Key -Be Idle Free

CoolMom is spearheading a No-Idle Campaign throughout Seattle and is inviting elementary schools to apply.

Idling Facts for Schools and Family

Idling Myths-Busted!


Calling all Elementary schools in Seattle!

If you’re looking for a way to become a WA Green School or simply interested in improving your students’ health through better air quality, we invite you to apply to participate in CoolMom’s No-Idle Campaign: Turn the Key, Be Idle Free.

CoolMom is a local non-profit that empowers families to take action on climate change. With a grant from the City of Seattle’s Office of Sustainability and Environment, we can engage 3 elementary schools in the Seattle area to be a part of the No-Idle Campaign, Turn the Key, Be Idle Free. We plan to help you decrease car idling in your school zones by 65%, a goal which will improve the air quality in your school zone, leading to healthier children and fewer green house gas emissions.

If selected, your school will receive “no-idle” signs for your school zone, educational materials for parents and community members, grade appropriate curricula for students, and incentive prizes for drivers caught not idling in the school zone. This campaign will help interested schools meet objective 4 of the Washington Green School program: Transportation and Outdoor Air Quality. However, schools not participating in WA Green Schools are encouraged to apply.

Participating schools will be asked to provide support for the campaign through school-wide involvement, including: helping teach curricula, student participation in tracking the idling habits of their own parents or caregivers as well the people who drop off and pick up other students, and developing (along with CoolMom) incentives for school-wide competitions. No financial commitment is needed from your school.

Idling Facts for Schools and Families

From the  Oregon Environmental Council

  1. An idling vehicle emits 20 times more pollution than one traveling 32 mph. By turning off your engine, you can reduce global warming, pollution and smog.
  2. Air pollutants from your vehicle’s idling engine – ozone, sulfur dioxides, and particulate matter – are respiratory irritants. When inhaled, they can work together to increase asthma symptoms.
  3. Vehicles left idling in traffic areas around schools cause surrounding buildings to have significantly higher pollution levels inside and out.
  4. Children are more vulnerable to air pollution because they breathe 50 percent more air per pound of body weight than do adults.
  5. A single car dropping of and picking up kids at a school can put 3 pounds of pollution into the air each month.
  6. Vehicle exhaust contains carbon which mixes with oxygen in the air to form carbon dioxide, a major contributor to global warming.
  7. Breathing car exhaust can increase asthma symptoms – especially in children. In 2008, an estimated 120,000 children in Washington suffered from asthma, making our state one of the highest rates of asthma in the country.
  8. Asthma in children leads to lost school days for them, and lost work days for parents.

Idling Myths – Busted!

From Natural Resources Canada

MYTH #1: In the winter, vehicles must be warmed up for a few minutes before they are driven.

FACT: Modern vehicle engines do not need to be warmed in the winter before they are driven. Ever since electronics were introduced to control engines, the need to warm up a vehicle before driving it has been eliminated. So now, sitting in your car in the winter waiting for it to warm up is a waste of time and gas, increases pollution, and does not protect your engine at all. To make matters worse, emissions from an idling vehicle in winter conditions are more than double the normal level immediately after a "cold start".

MYTH #2: It takes more gas to stop and restart an engine than it does to idle it.
FACT: Ten seconds of idling uses more fuel than turning off the engine and restarting it. So if you are stopping for more than 10 seconds – except in traffic, turn off the engine.

MYTH #3: Idling the engine for a few minutes warms up the vehicle.
FACT: Warming up the vehicle means more than warming the engine. The tires, transmission, wheel bearings and other moving parts also need to be warm for the vehicle to perform well. Most of these parts don't begin to warm up until you drive the vehicle away.  The catalytic converter – the device that cleans pollutants from the vehicle's exhaust – doesn't function at its peak until it reaches between 400°C and 800°C. The best way to warm the converter is to drive the vehicle.  Driving a vehicle cuts warm-up times in half. This reduces fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.

MYTH #4: Restarting a vehicle is hard on the engine and starter.
FACT: Restarting a car many times has little impact on engine components such as the battery and the starter motor. The wear on parts that restarting the engine causes adds about $10 a year to the cost of driving – money that you'll likely recover several times over in fuel savings.

Follow our No-Idle Blog here